A bare baker's dozen of words, eked out by ample illustrative gesture, should keep a man alive. But, in cold weather his conversation might become dull, and his writing would always be extremely telegraphic. He picks up an adjective here and a verb there until he can talk rather fluently of the weather and politics. Indeed, such writers as Hobbes, Swift and Defoe won success on very few words.
But now and then some individual finds his vocabulary cramping and proceeds to inflate it. If he is a man of affairs, with little time to study the dictionary, he may resort to his own inspiration. Such pressure from within gave us "normalcy", a queer word which turns in on itself twice and comes out with a meaning contained in its first four letters. From the same source came a more recent addition to the American vocabulary, the word "humorically" which is seen to have a shade of meaning all its own. A Senator's mind fired by the spell of oratory may reach untold heights, and so from Senator Heflin comes a whole new phrase, "multifarious digniminity", a true stroke of genius.
The smaller mind turns in need to the dictionary. There are 2559 words between "W" and "Wash", and 6220 through only half the "U's" a rich supply with only a few in use. A little digging has given us, for example, "peduncles" in a press despatch referring to the space between two semi-circles side by side. A popular novelist unearthed "carapace" to give us one more synonym for "shell". Kipling, Conrad, and Meredith knew the value of the "mot juste" and have forced their readers to learn the value of the dictionary. When one starts out to enrich the vocabulary in this way the possibilities are limitless. See how a little diligence can improve the usual novel opening. "It was something akin to ataraxy that our heroine, aestivating amongst the alsike, observed that her apolaustie hero had come from abroad aristate". And these are only in the "A's". One must be more than an abecedarian to keep space of the times.